JF Ptak Science Books Post 2536
“I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes” ― Vladimir Nabokov
Objects are synesthesic things, in their own way, something other than themselves when we attach memories to them. Like how some people can see color in music, objects have the potential for being far more than they are, and their power as story-holders don't necessarily have anything to do with their function. The old battered and painted-over light switch that I keep in my tool chest isn't an old beaten up spare, because it holds the memory of where I got it--in this case, it was in a trash heap outside of 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, where Albert Einstein used to live. It was old enough to have been in the house in the 1950's, and so perhaps the man flipped it on and off--that's what the object holds in itself for me, that spot in time. No one knows that story, and could never know it by looking at the switch swimming around in my tools--but once the object has been recorded, and photographed, and the story told, it becomes much more than itself.
“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” ― J.M. Barrie
Everything has this potential if your memory is deep enough, but we really don't want that as a superpower--like Borges' "Fumes the Memorist", there is a comfort zone to be experienced in memory, otherwise you may wind up spending your day remembering other days and not have any time to form new memories.
As we find out with Marcel Proust, it isn't necessarily the sight of an object that can lead you into a long experience of memory leading to memories--it can be the sound, or the texture, or an act involving the object. Like eating a cookie. "Touch has a memory” as John Keats sad, and everything may be open for interpretation—there are all manners of triggers, as in the protagonist in Frances Itani's The Bone Diaries, where the recollection of every broken bone is like an anatomy of memory.
It is hard to capture a smell as part of a collection of memory memes, but you can certainly have the thing that makes it, or the packaging that contained it, and so on. (For example you can open an old book and get that Old Book Smell, that transports you to a special place, all because of that book.)
There are places that are dedicated to the memories of objects, memories that aren't necessarily related to themselves. There are monuments to toys in Japan, distinguished from the monuments to lost and broken toys. This is a brilliant thing because the monument can stand in validation to that favorite toy that exists only in memory, but associating that memory with a slab of marble gives that gone-toy a physical presence, and honors the good time that you had with it. (There is an interesting story in Punch magazine for 1892, "Evolution of a Toy Soul", that long before Toy Story explores the complex existence of the being of a toy as it passes from one sort of toy to another.)
There have been thousands or perhaps tends of thousands of memory systems implemented through the course of human history--these were essential attributes before the age of having endless and easy access to paper and writing instruments. If these were very expensive, then you'd have to figure out a way of story this information. Some of these systems were mnemonics, and some were visual-mnemonics, where you would visualize a memory theater in your mind, the interior of a building with man rooms, an din one of these rooms were several cases, and within these would be associative memories. It was a way of story information for later access, and it was the way many people kept their memories for centuries. Even though this is not much practice--unless you enjoy committing poetry ("Poetry remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art"--Jorge Luis Borges) etc to memory--the story of how people thought about saving memories is a fascinating and useful thing to hear.
Frances Yates The Art of Memory and Jonathan Spence's The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci are two fine books to read on the concept of the memory palace, each a classic in its own way. Although it was not about constructing a mental architectural memory, Jorge Borges' "The Infinite Library" will make a good read on how to think of the organization of memory, as it is very easy to assimiliate the idea of a physical library being an external organizing device for vast amounts of memory. It might also be worth considering the opposite of this, as in the entirely fabricated memories in P.K. Dick novels, or in the memory excisions of Orwell's 1984.
This is memory remembered twice--not like the John Yossarian from Catch-22 remembering stuff twice and being incapacitated, but remembering once for yourself and once for the telling of it.